Sorry – I know that blogging has been since Veteran’s Day. My mind has been somewhat preoccupied. A major life change was in order, and I was not prepared to share it with you. I know that the fashion these days is for bloggers to live their entire lives on-line. But I’m a bit old-fashioned. Some decisions need neither commentary nor criticism.
As I announced at the staff meeting at work last week, I have taken a mistress.
My wife was kind enough to ride up to Virginia to meet her and bring her home to Knoxville and take a few pictures of us. Some people may think that she’s a little broad of beam, but I think that her curves are perfect. She doesn’t wear much in the way of sexy clothes, but when she does break out her wardrobe, she’s fully packed. She’s young, with all that that implies. So round . . . so firm . . . I anticipate many happy hours on her and hope that our relationship will last many, many years.
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Meet September Blue, the newest member of my family. For those of you who don’t know my personal history, small sailboats have been a part of my life since the late ’60’s, but my family has never taken the plunge to get a cabin-topped boat. Recent events in my father’s life have opened my eyes to the need to seize the day, and sail now, because life is shorter than we think, and can change in a heartbeat.
September Blue is a West Wight Potter – 19, 19 feet long and about six feet wide at the beam. She’s a fractionally rigged sloop, meaning that she has two sail. Her foresail is generically referred to as a jib. The “fractional” part of her rig can be seen in the picture; the jib does not come all the way to the top of the mast, like the mainsail.
She’s not fast. I selected the West Wight Potter for stability, ease of handling, and comfort, not for speed. My bride of 19 years has consented to try to develop a taste for sailing, and while the open cockpit boats with their tender handling, sharp heeling, and high-speed have their appeal, getting the Admiral to develop a taste for sailing is unlikely to be successful if it involved dipping her backside in cold water for extended periods of time while on the lake. Potters have a reputation for sailing well with a minimum of heeling (tipping) and having a high-and-dry cockpit. The small cabin allows for a place to retreat in the event of rain, except for the helmsman. Potters are also known for towing well on land, easy launching, and easy recovery. The company that makes them has a reputation for being very responsive and helpful to Potter owners, even owners of second-hand boats like mine.
This particular West Wight Potter – 19 was within an eight-hour drive to go and pick up. Then I learned more about her. She’s only been in a fresh water lake since she was delivered. For the initiated, salt water is hard on marine hardware. Most Potters are either on the west coast, or England and Australia. This particular lake is also part of the drinking water supply for the greater Richmond area, and as such, all internal combustion engines were prohibited. So that means that September Blue’s four-stroke auxiliary had never been used. Sure – it’s out of warranty, but so are most used motors, and you can’t beat zero for a count of operation hours. The porta-potti, marine cookstove, and water bladder had never been used either. The previous owners had done no camping/cruising on her, and so left all these amenities stacked in the garage. She’s got a number of other little amenities that you’re probably already bored hearing about, so I’ll just mention one more. She’s got a blue-water fiberglass layup. This means that when she was built, extra material was laid in at her keel, lower hull, and chines, making her fit for ocean travel. This moves her from the “day sailor” category into the “coastal cruiser” category. I could, in theory, put her in at the port of Miami, and sail her to Maine. In fact, other Potter owners have been more ambitious, most notably Bill Teplow, who single-handed his West Wight Potter – 19, Chubby, from San Francisco to Hilo, Hawaii. I am trying to carpe more diems. But I am not that kind of screaming lunatic.
At the appropriate time, September Blue will be re-christened with a new name to honor my mother, who passed away recently.
Anyway, that’s where my brain has been for the past week – making the final decision to part with that much money, and planning the roadtrip to bring my new girl home.
Oh, and the I did get a lot of raised eyebrows in the staff meeting with the mistress announcement.